I wanted to give a brief update on my quest to get as many cards autographed in 3 different sets as I can. My primary focus are the 1987 Fleer and 1988 Topps sets. These are 2 of my favorite sets from the 1980s as they were some of the first that I collected and completed. The other set is the 1981 Fleer set. This set is a nostalgic throwback to when the baseball card business was starting to grow.
Here are the stats for each set as of 12/04/2015:
1987 Fleer – 84/660 cards signed – 12.73% complete
1987 Fleer Update – 18/132 cards signed – 13.64% complete
1988 Topps – 98/792 cards signed – 12.37% complete
1988 Topps Traded – 18/132 cards signed – 9.09% complete
1981 Fleer – 52/660 cards signed – 7.88% complete
On Wednesday Jed Lowrie was traded by the Houston Astros to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Oakland’s number 30 prospect Brendan McCurry. Jed returns to the Athletics after signing a 3 year deal with the Astros after the 2014 season. He played in 290 games with Oakland during the 2013 and 2014 seasons and batted .271 with 74 doubles and 125 RBIs. In 2015 Jed was limited to 69 games with Houston.
The arrival of shortstop Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve at 2nd base, made Lowrie expendable in Houston. Barring any subsequent moves. in Oakland he will have the chance to platoon with Marcus Semien at shortstop, Brett Lawrie at second and Danny Valencia at third.
Brendan was drafted in the 22nd round of the June 2014 draft. In 2015 he split time with the Stockton Ports and Midland RockHounds. He posted a 1.86 ERA in 50 games, converting 27 out 28 save opportunities. McCurry was selected to pitch in the Arizona Fall League this year and posted a 4.73 ERA in just over 13 innings. He was selected as the reliever on Oakland’s organizational All-Stars for the 2015 season.
Now that I just completed a stretch of working 16 days in a row, I can get back to some semblance of routine. This week’s Card of the Week is the 2014 Topps Pro Debut Printing Plate of Bruce Maxwell. Bruce is currently the Oakland Athletics No. 28 Prospect on MLB.com. This card features Bruce’s time on the Beloit Snappers. This is the 3rd printing plate I own. The great thing about printing plates is that they are a true 1/1.
Bruce Maxwell 2014 Topps Pro Debut Magenta Printing Plate 1/1 – Front
Bruce was drafted in the 2nd round of the June 2012 Draft. This past year he was with the Midland RockHounds and helped them to their 2nd straight Texas League Championship. Bruce spent part of the 2013 and 2014 seasons with the Stockton Ports where I got to see him play. He was also named to the 2014 California League All-Star team.
Bruce Maxwell 2014 Topps Pro Debut Magenta Printing Plate 1/1 – Back
Click to see the previous Card of the Week entries.
On Monday, November 9, 2015 Major League pitcher, Tommy Hanson passed away. He was 29. On Sunday Tommy was rushed to the hospital because he was having trouble breathing. He passed away from catastrophic organ failure. The exact reason that led to the failure is unknown at this time.
Tommy pitched for 5 years in the majors. From 2009-12 with the Atlanta Braves and with the LA Angels of Anaheim in 2013. In 121 starts he posted a 49-35 record with a 3.80 ERA.
After being granted free agency by the Angels, Tommy tried to latch on with the Texas Rangers and the Chicago White Sox in 2014, but did not make either club. In May 2015 Tommy signed with the San Francisco Giants. In 15 starts with the San Jose Giants and the Sacramento River Cats, Tommy went 4-6 with a 4.76 ERA.
I was fortunate enough to see Tommy pitch for the San Jose Giants in Stockton back on June 30, 2015. That night he pitched well, striking out 5 in 5 innings. The only blemish was giving up a solo home run to Branden Cogswell.
After he was done pitching Tommy was nice enough to stop on the ramp leading to the clubhouse and sign some autographs for a couple fans. That night he signed the 2 cards I brought with me. Thank you Tommy.
2011 and 2014 Topps cards autographed by Tommy Hanson
On October 26th I received a TTM success from Kansas City Royal Ben Zobrist. I had sent a 2015 Topps Opening Day card out to Zobrist during the last week of the season. He is one of the few position players who usually has a quick turnaround time during the season.
Zobrist began the 2015 season with the Oakalnd Athletics. He came to the A’s with Yunel Escobar by way of a trade that sent catcher John Jaso along with minor leaguers Daniel Robertson, Boog Powell to the Tampa Bay Rays. Zobrist was later traded at the deadline to the Royals for Aaron Brooks and minor league pitcher Sean Manaea.
Zobrist signed 2 cards for me: 2015 Topps Opening Day (one I sent) and 2015 Testimony card (Bonus)
TTM Autographs from Ben Zobrist
With every request Zobrist included an additional signed testimony card. The back side has a description of his relationship with God. I received this success in 28 days. Thank you Ben!
Zobrist is one of those player I have liked since he came up in the Rays organization. I just wish he could have stuck with the Athletics for more than just 67 games. I was fortunate enough to see Zobrist rehab with the Nashville Sounds when they came to the West Coast in late May. He signed a MLB Ball for me before the game I went to in Fresno.
Ben Zobrist autographed baseball from rehab appearance with Nashville Sounds on May 24, 2015.
The Oakland Athletics lost relief pitcher, Dan Otero, on waivers to the Philadelphia Phillies on November 5th. In 2013 and 2014 Otero was a pivotal piece of the Athletics’s bullpen. In 2014, Otero posted an 8-2 record paired with a 2.28 ERA in 86 innings. In 2015, Otero was a weak link in the bullpen. He amassed a 2-4 record with a 6.75 ERA in 42+ innings. The Phillies are hopeful that Otero will return to his 2014 form next season.
The Athletics claimed Andrew Lambo off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates on November 6th. In 741 minor league games, Lambo has launched 100 home runs along with a .280 average. However, he has yet to be able to produce these numbers at the Major League level. Lambo is a career .191 hitter with only 1 home run in 59 games from 2013-15 with the Pirates. Lambo spent most of 2015 on the disabled list with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Oakland will give Lambo a hard look in the Spring possibly using him as a outfield/first base back up player.
Oakland currently has 39 players on the 40 man roster.
Every year MiLB.com gives the fans the opportunity to choose their “favorites” and “bests” with the MiLBY Awards. This year the fan’s choice for Breakout Prospect was Jacob Nottingham, the No. 8 Prospect for the Oakland Athletics. In the MiLBY’s fan vote, Nottingham received 37% of the votes. This was 24% ahead of the runner up, Detroit Tigers’s No. 1 Prospect Michael Fulmer.
Before 2015, Nottingham had a couple of average years in the Houston Astros Organization where he hit .247 in 2 seasons at the Rookie level. In 2015 it all turned around for Nottingham. He ended the season with .316/.372/.505 slash line and 17 home runs with 3 teams at 2 levels. To cap off a great first half, Nottingham was selected to represent the Quad Cities River Bandits at the Midwest League All Star Game.
Nottingham’s performance was noticed by the Oakland Athletics’s Front Office as they traded pitcher Scott Kazmir on July 23rd to Houston for Nottingham and pitcher Daniel Mengden. At the time of the trade Nottingham and Mengden were playing for the Lancaster JetHawks, who coincidentally were beginning a 4 game set against the Stockton Ports in Lancaster. Both were assigned to the Stockton Ports where they finished the season.
Having watched Jacob Nottingham play the second half of the season with the Stockton Ports, I can say that he can easily develop into an impact player. While he has a good bat, Nottingham’s is defense is a little rough. I would not be surprised if Oakland moves him to the outfield at some point next year.
The Card of the Week for November 1st-7th is an autographed 1988 Topps Tony LaRussa. This is one of my best TTM successes I have received to date. Growing up as an Oakland Athletics fan, I witnessed first hand the dominant teams of the late-1980s, early-1990s.
Sure those teams and many others in that era are accused of cheating by using steroids or other performance enhancing drugs; however, that is all in hindsight. These accusations do not take away from the pure talent that those players had.
TTM Autograph from Tony LaRusaa – 01/08/2015
Tony LaRussa is one of my favorite managers of all time. Even after he left Oakland to manage the St. Louis Cardinals I never lost respect for the man and his abilities. The 1988 Topps set is one of my favorite sets. Not because it has a beautiful design, but rather for nostalgic reasons. This came out during a time where my brother and I really got into collecting baseball cards.
This card is the first of two I have received signed via TTM from Tony LaRussa. The other is a 1987 Topps card.
This week’s featured card is the 2015 Bowman Chrome Purple Refractor Autograph of Carlos Rodon. This card is numbered 69/250. I pulled this card out of a hobby box of Bowman Jumbo that I picked up from my local card store.
Carlos Rodon Bowman Chrome Purple Refractor Auto #69/250 – Front
Carlos was drafted by the Chicago White Sox as the 3rd overall pick in the June 2014 Draft. He shot up though the Minor Leagues and made his Major League Debut on April 21, 2015, just over 10 months after being drafted. In his first full season Carlos went 9-5 with a 3.75 in 26 games, 23 of which were starts. It looks like Carlos will be a mainstay in the White Sox rotation for years to come.
Carlos Rodon Bowman Chrome Purple Refractor Auto #69/250 – Back
Card Serial Number
A couple of weeks ago I received a TTM success from former Oakland Athletics infielder and coach Dave McKay. Dave played in the majors from 1975 to 1982. He was originally drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 1971. Dave made his MLB debut on August 22, 1975. In April of 1980 the Athletics signed Dave as a free agent. In his 8 year career he was a .229 hitter. Dave also played for the Toronto Blue Jays.
After his retirement as a player in 1982, Dave came back to the Athletics as a coach where he served from 1984 to 1995. He has also coached for the St. Louis Cardinals (1996-2011) and the Chicago Cubs (2012-2013). Since 2014, Dave has served as the first base coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Dave signed 3 cards for me: 1981 Fleer, 1983 Topps and 1983 Donruss.
TTM autographs from Dave McKay
I received this success in 189 days. Thank you Dave!